They say you shouldn’t try to time the real estate market. But if you’re looking to score a deal — timing the different seasons (and even days) — can shave tens of thousands off your purchase price. The housing market is notoriously seasonal, and research shows it pays to pay attention to what season, month, day of the week, and even specific calendar dates you plan to buy and sell.
Livabl spoke to Toronto-based realtor Roger Travassos to get some inside intel on the best seasons for buyers and sellers. All you have to do is open a calendar.
Spring favors sellers and buyers who want options
In the spring, ‘for sale’ signs pop up on lawns across the country. Data from US real estate marketplace, Zillow, reveals that more new listings appear online in April nationwide than in any other month. In cities with harsher climates, the trend is even more extreme. Statistics show these listings are leading to sales: more homes sell in the first half of May than in any other season,18.5 days sooner than other times of the year and for an average of $1,700 more than the listing price.
The warm weather brings buyers and sellers out of hibernation. Spring also draws out parents who want to move in the summer before school starts. It’s also the season when buyers face the most competition, which drives prices up.
“Right now, it’s April, we’re seeing a lot of houses hit the market and it’s just going to ramp up from here,” says Travassos.
A report from ATTOM, a leading provider of US real estate property data, found that between 2011 and 2017, buyers were closing 5.9 percent above estimated market value in May, on average. Surprisingly, the hottest day to sell isn’t in May. It’s June 28th — when homebuyer hopefuls pay an average of 9.1 percent more than the estimated property value.
Back-to-school deals — on your house
In the spring, one in four US homes will sell above the initial list price. In the summer, the trend dips to one in three. With cooler temperatures breezing through, sellers fear having to wait until the spring of the following year to re-list. In 2016, in almost every large US market analyzed by Zillow, the highest share of listings with at least one price reduction were in August and September. Be patient — cooler heads prevail, even when it’s hot out.
Winter is coming for the housing market
In the fall, there is a second wave of homebuying activity. Summer vacation is over and homebuyers are back to their regular routines. They’re also ready to close before the winter — because no one wants to move in a blizzard. “Fall is the second strongest market,” says Travassos. “It usually starts to get into full swing closer to the end of October and the first couple weeks of November. Then it peters out — people get busy with the holiday parties and start thinking about spending their money on other things.”
If you’re willing to brave frigid temperatures while you house hunt (all the while juggling the busy holiday season), January is the cheapest month of the year to buy property. Again, it circles back to supply and demand. With fewer buyers on the hunt, demand drops and prices follow suit. Many sellers will wait until fall or spring to list — if they put their home on the market in the winter, it’s likely because they are very motivated to sell. Buyers are also typically more determined.
In 2016, the (now defunct) Red Pin did a six-year analysis of more than 530,000 homes in the Greater Toronto Area and discovered that the sale price was $43,000 less in January than any other time of the year. A significant sum to put towards closing costs, a larger downpayment or renovations, instead.
The Ren Pin also found that homes sit on the market longer — up to 11 days more than in the spring.
The winter advantage for sellers
The winter is beneficial for budget-savvy shoppers, but in some cases, the low inventory can also benefit the seller.
“I’ve seen a lot of homes do exceptionally well in January,” says Travassos. “The reason is because there are very few homes on the market. If you have a big enough buyer pool that needs to buy right away, they’re all competing for the small number of homes on the market. If someones out shopping in January, quite often, they’re thinking ‘I need to get a place, right now.’”
The realtor explains there can be a lot of luck involved, so long as you follow the right steps — you prepare your house, market it properly and are proactive in getting it out there. “You might luck out and put your semi-detached house on the market when, for some reason, there are no other semi-detached homes with three bedrooms out there. And all of a sudden, you have five serious buyers who need your house, right away. If you see the market is doing well and there’s low inventory, sometimes you should capitalize on that and get your house out immediately, instead of waiting for the spring.”
Who is the best person to ask about inventory? Your realtor. “You should be talking to your agent because the market changes, sometimes week-to-week.”
The best day of the year to buy
ATTOM analyzed more than 18 million single-family home and condo sales over the past five years and found that only 10 days of the year offer discounts below estimated market value.
Christmas week is traditionally the slowest in real estate, with buyers scoring the biggest discount on December 26th. Knowing that sellers are deeply motivated to close, they’re putting in lower bids. On top of that, many sellers are in good moods, opening presents, feeling generous and let’s be real — the champagne is likely flowing.
Livabl reported on the study, revealing that December had the most buyer-friendly days — including December 1st, 4th, 7th, 8th, 21st and 29th. Buyers hoping to save some dough should also circle October 12th, November 9th and February 9th on their calendars.
The best day of the week to list your home
According to real estate brokerage, Redfin, you should pay attention to what day of the week you list your home. The report indicates that homes listed on Thursday move the fastest, but listing on Wednesday will get you the most bang for your buck — up to $2,650 more than a Sunday listing.
Travassos prefers to list homes on Tuesday or Wednesday because sites like Realtor.com can take up to 48 hours to populate for weekend open houses. “If you put it in on Thursday, your listing may not show up in time for the weekend,” he says.
On the flip side, he aims to accept offers from buyers on Monday or Tuesday, at the latest. “By Wednesday and Thursday, all of the new houses for the following week have come online. The last thing I want is for someone who has been interested in closing to see the new houses on the market and change their mind,” he says.
These are The Best Times of The Year to Buy & Sell a Home by Jenny Morris | Livabl